The Emerald Isle
I am extremely fond of Irish Soda bread. Firstly because it tastes so good with butter, and secondly because it saved my arms from looking like the incredible hulks.
Back in my restaurant days I had to make a lot of bread. I would go to work earlier and earlier to keep up with the demand. I kept telling myself all that kneading was like a free Pilates class sculpting my arms but it is hard to describe the joy after one of my customers (a retired Vicar) offered to bring his Irish wife in to teach me to make soda bread. Ten minutes in from them arriving for my master class the loaf was already in the oven and we were sipping our second cup of tea.
Irish Soda Bread
In a bowl whisk together;
1 cup self raising flour,
1 cup wholemeal flour,
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of Soda,
1/2 teaspoon of fine salt
then mix in with a wooden spoon 1 cup of buttermilk.
Use your hands to bring together into a loaf shape ( a round is traditional with a cross slashed into the top)
Bake for 30 minutes at 180 c in a fan assisted oven, its done when you tap the bottom and it sounds hollow.
I frequently use this recipe and was not aware of any variations until I was on a recent job in Dublin. I was asked to make afternoon tea for some of the clients relatives who were to pop by later that day. In amongst the cheese scones, coffee eclairs and pots of Barry’s tea I decided to add the Irish Soda bread and serve it with horseradish butter, smoked salmon and lemon wedges, it was surely going to be a hit at this gathering….
Indeed the guests devoured it and as I was clearing away the empty platter and being complemented on the bread recipe the matriarch of the family chipped in that of course she always rolled her soda bread in oats before baking it. That sounds lovely, I thought, and then someone else said they always put caraway seeds in…again I thought that sounds delicious. My favorite idea however was had I tried making it with “the black stuff” …….Guinness, now you’re talking!
Guinness Soda Bread rolled in Oats with Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Butter
Makes 1 small loaf
I use a measuring jug and do it all by volume.
1/2 pint self raising flour
1/2 pint wholemeal flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoon brown sugar
Tip all these dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Pour in 1/4 pint of Guinness and 1/4 pint buttermilk. Bring together into a round loaf, scatter some rolled oats onto a baking tray and roll the bread in them until it is coated all over. Slash the top with a cross ( legends dictates this lets the evil spirits out – I think it looks good) and bake for 35 minutes in a preheated 175 c fan assisted oven.
Cool on a rack then slice, slather it in horseradish butter ( I mix 3 tbsp soft butter with 2 tsp horseradish sauce) and serve with smoked salmon and lemon wedges.
Job done! My bags are packed and next I am crossing the Irish Sea and am off to the west country …..